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Purchasing a Pup? Here’s How to Spot a Scam

:Connie Huynh, for TAPACT

Image: https://www.instagram.com/p/CGOPFjYDdk4/ 

Welcoming a new puppy into your home is an exciting but major life decision, and you want the best possible outcome for you, your family, and your new furry friend. We strongly encourage looking into adopting from a rescue first—adopting saves lives by drastically decreasing the rate of euthanization and opening up shelter space for other loving animals who need it.

If you are set on buying a puppy for any reason, however, it’s important to be vigilant in protecting yourself from online puppy scams.

The demand for a new pet has increased substantially over the past year as people have found themselves with more time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, with this rise in demand for pets, there has also been a significant rise in pet scams. 

Online puppy scams are especially prevalent now that many of us have become accustomed to using the internet to make big purchases. Unfortunately, online pet sales are unregulated; it’s estimated that 80% of online pet sales ads and websites are actually fraudulent! 

People of all ages fall victim to scammers, but pet scammers mostly target those who are in their late teens and twenties. False advertisers also often target those looking for popular breeds, such as French Bulldogs or Yorkshire Terriers. 

Online puppy scams are known to operate in three main ways:

  • Through a fake breeder’s website 
  • Classified ads or consumer sales websites, such as Craigslist or eBay
  • Social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram

Here are the ways you can spot a fake puppy scam:

Image: https://topdogtips.com/puppy-scams/ 

The price is too good to be true. 

Do your due diligence in researching what the average cost would be to buy from any reputable breeder. Purebreds often cost upwards of $5,000 due to high demand, so consider why a purebred or popular mix-breed dog would be sold for significantly less. Sounds sketchy? It probably is.

Some scammers will also claim they’ll rehome the dog to you for free, but require you to pay for shipping. You may be asked to wire them money through Western Union, MoneyGram, or with a prepaid debit card. These money wires cannot be traced.

The photos are stolen.

Here’s a quick and easy way to identify if an ad is a scam: check to see if their photos have been posted somewhere else by the legitimate seller. You can use Google’s reverse image search to see if the same photo has been published elsewhere on the internet. Scammers will often use stolen photos of adorable puppies they’ve found on other postings, such as ads from past legitimate sales.

They will not meet you face-to-face.

Scammers will most likely only communicate by email or text where they can hide their true identity behind a fake account or proxy server. Some scammers may even be bold enough to agree to speak with you by phone. It’s best to insist on a face-to-face meeting to ensure full transparency.

They are selling different breeds.

Legitimate breeders normally focus on only one breed and will not advertise different kinds. Even if they aren’t advertising a different breed in the same listing or on the same website, you should look up their name and contact information across the web to see if you find any of their advertisements for different breeds. 

You can’t find a lot of information about the breeder and they don’t seem all that interested in information about you.

Reputable breeders will have good reviews, referrals, and presence on registries like the American Kennel Club (AKC) or regulation organizations like the Better Business Bureau (BBB). A reputable breeder can provide you with the dog’s entire pedigree, including health history and anything else you may want to know. 

They also care about their puppies and will want to know more about you to ensure their pups are going to the right people. They’ll stand behind their business and take responsibility for their dogs, so you can expect to receive quality education, resources, and the ability to even return the dog if there are any major issues. 


Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker

Top Dog Tips